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Top 10 in-store mobile campaigns of 2013

Walmart, Best Buy and Urban Outfitters had the best in-store mobile campaigns this year, highlighting the gains that retailers have made in improving the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience this year.

In-store mapping, augmented reality and integrated loyalty programs are just a few of the ways that retailers have significantly integrated mobile to tie together physical and digital shopping. These efforts will likely grow in 2014 as retailers roll out pilot programs more broadly.

Mobile Commerce Daily has selected the top ten in-store initiatives from 2013, which are below in alphabetical order.

Aéropostale amplifies mcommerce efforts with new app, in-store iPad kiosk expansion
Aéropostale built on its in-store initiatives this year by rolling out more mobile kiosks.

Consumers in Aéropostale stores can shop looks straight from the in-store iPads, watch videos and scan in-store items.

In March, mobile represented 13 percent of Aéropostale’s sales, up from two percent in June 2010.

Arming employees with mobile tools was a big trend this year in helping retailers bust showrooming and assist shoppers.

Additionally, Aéropostale’s demographic of teenagers are digital natives and expect for their favorite retailers to have digital shopping experiences. To keep ahead of the game, more teen retailers will likely add in-store mobile kiosks in 2014.

Best Buy fights showrooming with new mobile-focused loyalty program
Showrooming became mainstream in 2013, and Best Buy was one of the retailers that tackled it with a completely new loyalty program that put mobile at the center.

Best Buy replaced its Reward Zone loyalty program with a new initiative called My Best Buy that rewards members who download the consumer electronic retailer’s mobile app.

Best Buy revamped its app with an in-store mode that lets consumers check-in to a location and unlock reward points. The app also doles out exclusive offers.

With retailers focusing more on engaging with consumers in-store, incentivizing app use with a loyalty program helps Best Buy link its digital and bricks-and-mortar shopping experiences.

Buffalo Wild Wings boosts in-store traffic with fantasy football augmented reality
Buffalo Wild Wings took a unique approach to interacting with diners this year with an augmented reality app that only worked in-store.

The wing chain rolled out the Big Kick Challenge app as part of a football-themed promotion this fall and leveraged augmented reality to turn tables into uprights. Consumers could then compete for prizes including a trip to the Buffalo Wild Wings bowl and gift cards.

The app flipped into practice mode when not in a store, but consumers could not compete for prizes unless they were in a restaurant.

Augmented reality made a big splash in 2013 in replacing QR codes for marketers, and by adding location to the mix, Buffalo Wild Wings’ app incentivized in-store traffic and sales.

Express gains specialty retailer advantage with mobile payment app
Express recently rolled out what the company claimed to be the first mobile payment app for a specialty retailer.

The brand revamped its app to integrate with the Express Next loyalty program.

Express Next members can log-in to the app and show a virtual copy of their loyalty card that includes a bar code to pay for items. Employees then scan the bar code, and the sale is added to a consumer’s monthly bill.

Additionally, Express boosted its holiday campaign this year with rich media messaging and social media.

The mobile payment space is heating up, and the Express app is an example of how retailers are banking on loyalty to expedite consumer adoption.

Lowe’s personalizes mobile shopping via in-store app features
Lowe’s made a major update to its iPhone app in August with in-store mapping.

Consumers can locate any in-store item on an aisle-level outline of a store.

Lowe’s loyalty program MyLowe’s is also integrated into the app so that consumers that have added products to a wish list can view them on a store-specific map.

In-store mapping was one of the biggest trends for big box retailers in 2013 to make the shopping experience more exciting. These initiatives also propelled endless aisles initiatives so that consumers could buy products online if they were not available in-stock.

Additionally, Lowe’s app shows key areas of each store such as customer service, product pick-up and store returns.

Macy’s, shopkick up the ante for personalized shopping
Apple’s launch of the low-energy Bluetooth iBeacon technology this year promises retailers a way to personalize and send targeted offers to in-store shoppers.

Macy’s was one of the first retailers to test the technology in San Francisco and New York within the shopkick app for the holidays this year.

Consumers who have the app downloaded can opt-in to offers and deals when they are inside one of the Macy’s locations piloting the technology.

From there, Macy’s can send consumers hyperlocal offers based on their exact location in a store. Additionally, the technology can tie together a consumer’s online behavior to push consumers relevant in-store offers.

Target tightens focus on mobile as in-store shopping tool
Target added location-specific features to its iPhone and Android app this year so that the app has a different in-store experience.

One of the new sections is called Weekly Ad and pulls in store-specific weekly deals. The deals can either be shopped online or consumers can locate the store aisle of the product.

The app also includes a shopping list feature that integrates with in-store inventory, and consumers can manage the lists by swiping their finger across the screen in different directions.

The app was first beta tested in Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle and City Target stores and later rolled out to all locations.

Timberland, Kenneth Cole, Alex and Ani dole out targeted, in-store offers
Timberland and Alex and Ani were among a handful of retailers to first leverage mobile platform Swirl this year.

The retailers piloted in-store mobile technology to serve shoppers targeted in-store offers.

Rewarding in-store shoppers with mobile-exclusive deals is a smart way to lure in foot traffic, and this pilot program is an example of how retailers are increasingly interested in targeting consumers with granular-level offers and deals.

The retailers are now in the process of rolling out Swirl at a national level.

Urban Outfitters bolsters foot traffic, marketing opportunities via in-store phone chargers
Urban Outfitters rolled out in-store phone charging stations this summer.

The charging stations not only boosted in-store traffic, but also prompted consumers to connect to in-store Wi-Fi network. This helps the retailer better understand what consumers are searching for on their mobile devices while in-store and can also be used to push traffic to Urban Outfitters’ mobile site or send out a targeted email.

In-store Wi-Fi was embraced by more retailers this year, but can still be a costly initiative for retailers to roll out at scale.

However, as more retailers turn to their mobile devices to either kill time or check prices on products, retailers will likely benefit from Wi-Fi to control showrooming.

Walmart boosts Scan & Go self-checkout with mobile coupons 
Walmart ramped up its in-store efforts in August by adding mobile coupons to its Scan & Go self checkout program.

Digital coupons at the more than 200 locations that use Scan & Go became available in the app. Additionally, Walmart updated its app to include electronic receipts for in-store purchases.

Walmart’s mobile efforts have strongly centered around improving the in-store experience in the past couple of years. The broader roll out and update to Scan & Go signals that investments are paying off in helping consumers navigate stores and access store coupons.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York